With this unusually cold and wet spring in San Francisco, I feel like I want to eat hearty, earthy food. Something flavorful that fills you up and makes you happy and satisfied. Something like mushroom risotto.
Initially I was going for the Italian approach. The thing with the Italian approach is all that cheese and butter.
I wasn’t feeling dairy-ish. Inspiration struck when we went to a Korean market in Daly City.
The market has a huge assortment of fresh mushrooms for sale. I settled for the shimeji, button and shiitake types. I also bought some aanori seaweed salad, a couple of servings of cucumber and cubed daikon kimchi to serve as side dishes to jazz up our meal a bit more. I served the Japanese mushroom risotto with pan fried mahi-mahi steaks and kabocha pumpkin wedges cooked in dashi-shoyu broth, so we had fun.
Mushroom risotto is still English-Italian. This is originally called kinoko gohan in Japanese. Kinoko stands for mushroom, and gohan, for rice. The dish is rich and flavorful yet does not use a single drop of fat.
Japanese mushroom risotto, or kinoko gohan
1 tray (100g) fresh white shimeji mushrooms, aka beech mushroom, rinsed and very bottom discarded
1 tray (100g) fresh brown shimeji mushrooms, rinsed and very bottom discarded
8 large fresh shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, cut into ½ moons, stems chopped and reserved
1 lb fresh white button mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
3½ cups dashi broth (see below to make fresh)
2 cups Japanese sushi rice
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
4 tbsp soy sauce
Kosher salt to taste
toasted sesame oil
1 4×4 inch piece dried kelp (kombu)
Wipe white layer of salt off the kombu leaf using a wet paper towel. Put it in a sauce pan with 4 cups of water and shiitake mushroom stems. Let soak for 30 minutes. Place saucepan on stove top, and bring to a boil. Immediately turn it off, remove from heat and let kelp and mushroom stems continue soak for another 15 minutes. This is your dashi broth. Discard mushroom stems. Kelp can be stored in the fridge and reused another time soon, otherwise simply discard it.
Bring three cups of prepared dashi to a boil. Add ginger, mirin, sake and soy sauce, a sprinkle of kosher salt and all the mushrooms. Cook mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Scoop them out of the broth and set aside. Top up broth with hot water (if needed) to make up for 3 and ½ cups then add rice. Bring temperature to a boil. Turn it down to medium low. Stir rice to prevent sticking. Cover and cook for about 14 minutes, lid on, until liquid absorbed. Stir occasionally. Top with mushrooms and their liquid. Cover and cook on low for another couple of minutes to warm through. Remove from heat and keep pan covered for another 5 minutes.
Transfer rice to a serving platter. Scatter with chopped scallion. Serve with toasted sesame oil and ponzu-soy sauce on the side.